• Published 14th Apr 2017
  • 2,756 Views, 135 Comments

To Outlast - Camolot the Creator



Matt has always wished to visit the world of Equestria. He finally makes it, only to find an empty world barren of life. What happened? Where is everypony?

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II: Overgrowth

The first thing I was aware of, blissfully, was that I was no longer in pain. Groaning, I reached a hand up and rubbed my face; that had been some nightmare. Really, I had been completely unaware that, in the case of a lucid dream on that scale, one might actually feel pain.

Note to self; I thought, avoid the darker fics before bed.

At least my bed was softer than it usually was. The old mattress had given up consistency years before, the springs creaking, groaning and refusing to offer proper support. Occasionally, however, I would quite accidentally locate a sweet spot on the torture device, and enjoy a restful night. Apparently, this had been one of those lucky days. My brow creased as I felt a bit of material come away from the whole. Obviously, the old thing had decayed further, and was now coming apart at the seams. Annoyed, I lifted the piece up, cracking my eyelids- and stopped, frozen.

This was not a piece of beige mattress, nor yellow foam, nor white fabric. No, this was green, slightly translucent, and very, very obviously a leaf.

A leaf.

A LEAF.

Quickly, I ran through the possibilities. I did not remember leaving my window open last night, though I may have done so and forgotten. Oregon, in spite of its northern climate, reached into the eighties in the summer, and I had known myself to be forgetful. It was then, of course, that I realized that behind the bit of organic matter I was holding was, instead of the grey roof that greeted me in the mornings, a canopy of greens and browns shot through with golden beams of sunlight.

My mind drew a blank, and I let my arm fall to my side. Some part of me thought that I was still dreaming, the lucidity of the previous vision carrying through, but it was just too... real. The sensations were detailed beyond any dream and, as I reached a single hand down and took a clump of what I identified as loam, I realized that I could feel every particle that slipped through my fingers. I felt a hysterical giggle rising in my throat, but pressed it down. Without a doubt, there was something I was missing here, some element of all of this that escaped my notice, and collapsing into hysterics would not exactly contribute to parsing out my current dilemma. Whatever that dilemma might be, that is.

First order of business was learning how I came to be here. Recent memories revealed nothing besides an incredibly strange dream about a- unicorn? And magic circles, and a magical rainbow tunnel of excruciating pain-

Note to self: take short break from ponies, catch up on anime.

So de droogs, or perhaps beverages of the alcoholic type, whether consumed intentionally or no, were most likely responsible for my current dilemma. My general guess was that I had completely forgotten about an entire day due to inebriation, a day that had ended with me passed out in the middle of a park somewhere. Quickly, I checked my hoodie and pants, breathing a sigh of relief when I failed to located anything crusted or dried into the material. Well, that was one worry solved; on to the next. My wallet, thankfully, was in my pocket, exactly where it should have been, matched on the opposite side by my phone. Thankful for a convenient means of calling for a ride, I slid the thin slab of metal and glass out of my pocket and pressed the power button, only to frown at the words displayed at the top left in large, red letters.

NO SERVICE.

Well, damn. Guess I would have to find a cab the old fashioned way, with whistles and waving my arms about like an idiot. Excellent. Of course, first I would have to make my way out of the trees and to some manner of road or another. I glanced about, examining my surroundings, and was rewarded by the sight of a clear trail blazed through the trees, conveniently close to the tree that I had woken up underneath. Some part of me vaguely hypothesized that this was the trail that I had stumbled from the previous night, perhaps during a moment of digestive weakness, the evidence of which was thankfully absent. Double-checking my pockets to ensure all my possessions were present and accounted for, as this was not the time or place to be leaving things behind, I stepped through the thick underbrush towards the path.

To my displeasure, the asphalt trail was aged and cracked, the occasional chunk of black material missing entirely and plants growing from the deeper cracks. Obviously, this section of the path was terribly maintained. In fact, if this had been a dirt trail, I had no doubt that it would have long been reclaimed by the nature that surrounded it: as it was, the strip of black was barely holding its own against the greenery. This, of course, meant that I would have to pay close attention to the ground, lest I have an unfortunate and entirely unexpected encounter with a patch forced up by a wayward root.

I debated for a moment between left and right: the path, nearly a road by width but just thin enough to still count, ran in both directions, but curved out of view around the throngs of trees that lined it. After a long moment, during which I managed to locate none of the sounds of traffic that would direct me to my goal, I shrugged, setting off to the left. One always picks left, when one knows not where to go: it is simply common sense.

The walk was quite a long one, stretching like the path itself through and around the natural obstacles of the forest. The trees formed a green canopy overhead that filtered the sunlight into green, occasionally broken by glittering beams of gold light where a gap in the vaulted leafy ceiling allowed tentative fingers of it past. Even through my annoyance at the lack of phone service as well as the near constant task of dodging the roots that periodically cropped up through the surface, I could admit that it was actually quite beautiful here, peaceful in an ethereal sense that was rare in cities. There was quiet among the trees- not an unsettling lack of noise, but a gentle and soothing near silence that felt more comfortable than not. If I had not been in a little bit of a hurry to return home, I might have found a good place to sit and take in my surroundings. I frowned, cursing my lack of sketchbook and pencil, the two objects that always seemed to be absent when there came opportunity for their use.

In my annoyance, I missed exactly when the thick coverage shifted from oak, cypress and elm to a more widely recognizable manner of vegetation. However, the sight of a fence pulled me out of my funk, and I glanced around in a vain attempt to locate signs of human habitation that might point the way to a street of some kind, only to stop short at what I saw. While just a few hundred feet ago the treeline had been an almost solid wall of underbrush and trees of various types and phylums, it had now shifted exclusively to the fruit bearing kind of plant- more specifically, the apple kind. The trees in question rose tall and strong, their red bounty hanging from their branches and weighing them down slightly with their sheer bulk, clearly marking this space as an orchard of some sort.

However, the longer I looked, the less... right things felt. While it was clear that the trees had been planted in a grid-like pattern that was common in orchards and on farms where the fruit was produced for general consumption, it had very obviously been a very long time since the place had been maintained in any meaningful way. Branches in desperate need of trimming stuck out at odd angles, and the trees themselves had obviously not been cared for for. Rotted fruit littered the roots of the plants, which were also covered by layers of dead underbrush which anyone actually intending to grow apples would have not just cleared away, but never allowed to take root where it could catch in the feet of workers. The fence itself was rotted and ancient, the wood on the verge of collapse in some areas and well beyond it in others, whole sections of fencing missing entirely with only the barest of marks to indicate that it was ever there in the first place.

I blinked. This was obviously a farm of some manner, but a decrepit and abandoned one. Why someone would simply abandon viable fruit-bearing trees to nature was anyone's guess, but that was not my primary concern: mainly, I was worried over the fact that there were not any such abandoned farms, to my knowledge, in any case, within quite a ways of Portland. This meant that the mystery party people had driven me into the country and ditched me on a side road of some sort.

Internally, I vowed that if I ever discovered the identities of said mystery people, I would never party with them again. While I'm sure that the night leading up to this unfortunate occurrence was most likely highly entertaining, that did not do me much good in the slightest if I both had no memory of it and was at real and viable risk of getting dumped in some random location in the country. Vaguely, I supposed that this was why I had no service, and I doubted that there were any taxis or Uber drivers nearby that wouldn't charge an arm and a leg for a ride home. Mostly, I supposed, I would have to figure out where I was first and then run with it from there, which meant following this trail to its terminus.

Course of action set in mind, and determined to find my way out of this place if it killed me. Well, bad choice of words, perhaps 'injured me in a minor manner'? Shaking my head and banishing the non-sequiturs from my train of thought, I turned and continued down the asphalt path and towards, hopefully, some amount of civilization.

The trees went on for quite a ways, blocking my line of sight on both sides of the trail. On one side were the apple trees and the rotted, aged fence, standing as the lone evidence of civilization. On the other, thick groves of trees grew in an almost impenetrable wall of foliage, blocking the light and giving a nigh-perfect example of an evil forest. This didn't bother me at first, but the longer that I spent here on the edge of it, the more it felt like things were moving in between the branches. Watching me. Waiting for their chance to strike. As a result, it came as an incredible relief when I sighted a gate further down the way. Obvious even from this distance was the decrepit state of the wood and construction, but I didn't much care: anything was better than sitting here at the edge of these woods waiting for something to... no, it was best not to consider that line of thought farther.

I approached the arch of wood and metal with newfound positivity. After all, if this was an entrance, it most likely meant that there were buildings nearby, perhaps even buildings with occupants who would allow me to borrow their phone. As I got nearer, I noticed that a couple of chains long rotted with rust and weathering hung from the apex of the arch. A sign, depicting a simple apple, lay at the foot of the arch itself, the rest of the chains attached to the top. Apparently, at some point the chains had completely fallen through, which must've made the sign itself some pretty damn impressive wood. I kicked the sign gently, and it skid away from me and through the arch, my eyes following it, then looking up and away.

Two buildings sat in the center of a smallish clearing in the brush. One, which looked like a barn, was almost completely collapsed, the roof bowing inwards and the side walls collapsing in under their own weight. The other, however, was surprisingly intact, a two-story farm affair that wouldn't look so out of place in Kansas. Old-style paneling, worn paint, a typical quaint design common in stereotypical representations of farms oft seen in printed canvases and default computer backgrounds. The difference here, however, was that the building was overgrown with a variety of plants. Vines snaked up the outer walls and covered the sometimes-broken windows, a tree had begun growing out of the end of the porch and bent under the roof, curving to the side and out towards the sky.

I sighed- apparently, there would be no help from this place. A working phone? I'd be surprised if it was hooked up to *power.* It was then that I noticed the obvious pole and wires, connected to the roof of the building and leading away down the path, the wires strung between poles that were mixed in with the trees. Some of them leaned, and I saw one that had clearly toppled at some point. Strange, as I thought that even a line leading out to an abandoned house and not much else would be serviced, for safety, if nothing else. I considered this for a moment, then shrugged. It wasn't my problem if the electric company was being lax in its maintenance of power poles to empty houses, and, in any case, this gave me a convenient route back to civilization.

Happy that I had encountered some sort of sign of humanity besides the ever-present road beneath my feet, I jogged as fast as I could while still being mindful of the occasional root-buckled section of asphalt. Gradually, the trees began thinning a little, the road becoming a bit wider and more pronounced as the trees that had damaged it became fewer and fewer. Finally, the strip of black that I had been following for quite a while crested a rise, behind which I was sure was a town, a village, something where I could call a cab and go home. Sleep the rest of the day.

Cheered by this thought, I jogged faster up the hill, no longer needing to be aware of problems with the road for quite some time due to the sparser trees. With one triumphant move, I conquered the small hill with a strong stomp... then stopped dead.

Before me stretched a town, an entire town, abandoned just as that house was. Vines grew over some of the buildings in crazy patterns. Some of the buildings had fully collapsed in on themselves. One had fallen over, completely on its side, flat as paper. And there, in the distance, at the edge of town, stood a castle.

A castle made of crystal, in the same shape as a tree, shining as bright as the day that it was raised, just after the defeat of Tirek.

Twilight Sparkle's castle.

Author's Note:

Depression is eating my inspiration alive.